Estimates of evapotranspiration for riparian sites (Eucalyptus) in the Lower Murray –Darling Basin using ground validated sap flow and vegetation index scaling techniques

Friday, 19 December 2014
Tanya Doody, CSIRO, Land and Water Flagship, Adelaide, Australia, Pamela L Nagler, USGS, Baltimore, MD, United States and Edward P Glenn, University of Arizona, Soil, Water, Environmental Science, Tucson, AZ, United States
Water accounting is becoming critical globally, and balancing consumptive water demands with environmental water requirements is especially difficult in in arid and semi-arid regions. Within the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia, riparian water use has not been assessed across broad scales. This study therefore aimed to apply and validate an existing U.S. riparian ecosystem evapotranspiration (ET) algorithm for the MDB river systems to assist water resource managers to quantify environmental water needs over wide ranges of niche conditions. Ground-based sap flow ET was correlated with remotely sensed predictions of ET, to provide a method to scale annual rates of water consumption by riparian vegetation over entire irrigation districts. Sap flux was measured at nine locations on the Murrumbidgee River between July 2011 and June 2012. Remotely sensed ET was calculated using a combination of local meteorological estimates of potential ET (ETo) and rainfall and MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) from selected 250 m resolution pixels. The sap flow data correlated well with MODIS EVI. Sap flow ranged from 0.81 mm/day to 3.60 mm/day and corresponded to a MODIS-based ET range of 1.43 mm/day to 2.42 mm/day. We found that mean ET across sites could be predicted by EVI-ETo methods with a standard error of about 20% across sites, but that ET at any given site could vary much more due to differences in aquifer and soil properties among sites. Water use was within range of that expected. We conclude that our algorithm developed for US arid land crops and riparian plants is applicable to this region of Australia. Future work includes the development of an adjusted algorithm using these sap flow validated results.